F _ R CS Topic Group progress report - Hertfordshire County Council

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F _ R CS Topic Group progress report - Hertfordshire County Council Powered By Docstoc
					HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL                                        Agenda Item No.


THURSDAY 12 June 2008 AT 10.00 A.M.                                         8

Author: Area Commander David McClement                Tel: 01992 507590

Executive Member: Richard Smith

1     Purpose of report

To update the Community Safety Panel on progress made against the
recommendations in the Topic Group’s report which scrutinised Community Safety
Activities in the Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service.

2      Summary

In Sept 2007 a paper to the Community Safety Panel was provided by Deputy Chief
Officer Mark Yates on the Topic Group’s report scrutinising Community Safety
Activities which detailed a summary of recommendations. Section 4, item (ii) asked
the Community Safety panel to:

‘Request that the Chief Fire Officer reports back to this panel with regard to the
progress that is being made on the recommendations contained within the report’

The Appendix provides the Panel with an update on the progress of those


That the report and Appendix be noted and that Members comment as appropriate.

4.    Background

In 2005 Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service (HFRS) was subject of a Comprehensive
Performance Assessment which was carried out by the Audit Commission. This
assessment identified that “The Authority does not have a clear strategy for the future
of CFS (Community Fire Safety)”. However a subsequent Direction of Travel
Assessment which was carried out under the CPA Framework identified that “The
Authority is in a good position to make further improvements”.

The initial meeting of the Topic Group took place in November 2006 with a further 10
meetings to hear evidence from a range of interested parties. These include CSF,
ACS, Health & Safety Risk Management, Crime & Drugs Unit, Corporate
Communications, District Councils etc.

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Fire & Rescue Community Safety Topic Group
Schedule of Recommendations

Resources                              Replication                            Targeting                                Communications & Co-
Co-ordination of HFRS Community Safety Initiatives
There should be improved co-                                                  Corporate internal communications       The successful community
ordination of HCC’s overall                                                   needs to be strengthened.               safety initiatives within the
community safety initiatives to                                                                                       Hertfordshire Fire &
maximise the use of HCC’s                                                                                             Rescue Service which
resources.                                                                                                            make a positive
                                                                                                                      contribution to fire
                                                                                                                      prevention and the
                                                                                                                      building of safer
                                                                                                                      communities could be
                                                                                                                      more effectively co-
                                                                                                                      ordinated with those of
                                                                                                                      HCC’s partner agencies
The Prevention Team are currently actively pursuing moving 6 or 7 ‘Prevention’ managers into Farnham House at Stevenage. This move
provides us with opportunities to engage with all other HCC departments, Police and others, to improve liaison and partnership working. A
site visit has already been made to view the premises and working environments, and a formal approach has been made to David Robinson
of ‘The Way We Work’ Team to explore a move as early as possible. Following discussion with Phil Winter (Head of Crime and Drug
Strategy Unit) a similar Topic Group report was produced in March 2008 for that Unit. The opportunities to coordinate activities more closely
are highlighted in both reports and will be afforded by the move of HFRS resources to Farnham House. A formal review has been
undertaken on the ways of working in HFRS, procedures, documentation and administration. The Prevention Team have drawn up a short
overarching Prevention Strategy document which makes links to our statutory responsibilities from the Fire Services Act 2004, HCC
Objectives, the Fire Service’s National Framework, and lastly the Service’s own Community Safety Plan (CSP). Complementing the overall
strategy a draft Youth Strategy has been produced requiring business cases for all initiatives i.e. Firesetters, LiFE, Crucial Crew etc. Each
individual business case will have an action plan, budget allocation, job & person specifications, a training requirement, performance
standards, targets, partnership needs, evaluation and review. This will all be completed over the coming months as part of the Prevention
Team’s Action Plan that will be audited regularly. Coupled with the proposed move of key personnel to Farnham House to engage with
partners, good progress is being made in co-ordinating a joined up Community Safety program.
HFRS’s current structure should be Joint training should be introduced There should be a greater use of               There should be a clear
reviewed to consider whether it is      for HFRS, ACS and CSF on             specialist appointments (including       Golden Thread of
best suited to delivering the most      topics, e.g. how to reduce crime     secondments) such as teachers,           community safety coming
effective and co-ordinated              showing links with the corporate     police officers etc to posts within the from a Community

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Resources                             Replication                           Targeting                                 Communications & Co-
community safety program                 plan                                HFRS Community safety dept               Strategy through the
                                                                                                                      Corporate Plan into Policy
Since the Topic Group Report, Service Delivery within the Fire & Rescue Service has been restructured. Service Delivery has now been split
into Intervention (Operations), and Prevention and Protection (Fire Safety). Prevention manages fire safety education and engagement, while
Protection manages fire safety law enforcement and the built environment. Each work area now has an Area Commander as Lead Officer,
and Prevention has been strengthened with a new Group Commander to provide additional management support and co-ordination. Three
further secondments are currently being sourced to lead on 1. The elderly and hard to reach groups, and 2. Youth Engagement. These
secondments will be responsible for developing partnership working and Fire Service Prevention activity within these groups. The Elderly &
Hard to Reach Co-ordinator will come from existing Fire Service personnel. Discussions have taken place with a senior manager of CSF who
by end of May has undertaken to identify two people from CSF to be seconded until March 2009 to develop schools engagement, and other
youth group contact.
There should be better branding of                                           The Director of Communications           HFRS should pilot the use
HCC’s and HFRS’s community                                                   and chief Fire Officer should review     of video clips on HCC’s
safety initiatives                                                           the various in-house newsletters         hertsdirect website
                                                                             (such as the Fire services ‘In
                                                                             Focus’) to see if they could be
                                                                             brought together into one regular
Branding and PR will now be the reference for one of our existing District Co-ordinators who will act a focal point for gathering and co-
ordinating publicity and media material. The Service is already programming forthcoming campaigns, publicity material and activities to align
with the CLG ‘Fire Kills’ national publicity campaign. Target audiences are the same for Hertfordshire as they are nationally. As part of the
recent Tea Light Campaign a video clip was piloted on Herts Connect showing the mother of a firefighter killed at an incident in Stevenage
speaking to highlight the risks of tea lights. This was accompanied by online advice and leaflets, and a message from the Chief Fire Officer.
A number of locations including the University of Hertfordshire were visited to highlight the dangers from tea lights for the newly living away
from home. No progress has been made as yet on combining the various in house newsletters.
                                                                                                                      The value of having one
                                                                                                                      telephone number through
                                                                                                                      which Hertfordshire’s
                                                                                                                      residents could report any
                                                                                                                      concerns in respect of
                                                                                                                      community safety issues
                                                                                                                      should be examined.

No progress on reviewing this issue and having one single number as yet due to other priorities. However, systems are currently in place to

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Resources                             Replication                           Targeting                                   Communications & Co-
deal with contacts made through the HCC Call Centre regarding alleged fire risks, fire safety advice, or any other concerns. Calls are
referred by the Call Centre to the appropriate department whether that be local fire stations or the Prevention or Protection Departments. The
Service currently advertises on the website, vehicles, and fire safety literature a freephone number for people to request Home Fire Safety
Checks or make fire safety issue enquiries.
Consideration should be given to
providing a more stable financial
basis for HFRS’ community safety
initiatives that enables long term
planning, whilst allowing the
Authority to maximise income from
national grants and funding
streams such a LAA rewards
70% of the personnel posts in the Prevention Team are supported by short term funding from LPSA (Government Grant) or support from
HCC year on year. LPSA funding ceased in March 2008, but HCC funding has been provided until March 2009 to support and sustain
current activity. This lack of a confirmed medium to long term funding arrangement makes it difficult to plan ahead with any certainty.
Budgets are generally not finally agreed until two months before the financial year starts. This remains an outstanding problem that is yet to
be resolved.
Home Fire Safety Checks
Operational staff need to deliver a                                            Home fire safety checks should be        In addition to blanket
large increased number of Home                                                 more focused on vulnerable people        media campaigns,
Fire Safety Checks and a                                                                                                consideration should be
performance indicator approach be                                                                                       given to targeting
adopted to monitor and encourage                                                                                        communications towards
this                                                                                                                    vulnerable groups (e.g.
                                                                                                                        door to door leafleting)
Since the Topic Group report the vast majority of operational stations have exceeded their given targets for the fitting of smoke detectors.
However, software problems make providing an accurate central report difficult. Each location is archiving their own records for later data
input once these software bugs are cleared. The entire Service Delivery Team are working on ways to reduce the amount of time stations
spend generating HFSCs which can be done by other partners such as volunteers, Age Concern etc. to increasing the numbers and time
spent fitting them. The Prevention Team, as a core principle, will target its resources to the highest risks that will have the most impact on
levels of fires, deaths and injuries. Following agreement with all of the Service Delivery managers, a method of identifying the target areas or
groups has been established. Agreeing the desired prevention activity and a timeframe for when it should be delivered is currently in
progress and will be in place by end of June. Good quality statistical data to feed the targeting decisions has only recently become available

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Resources                               Replication                            Targeting                            Communications & Co-
due to improvements in software and data analysis by the Performance Department. The discussions on the resources to be used during
any targeting activity will include all the Service Delivery departments, and may also include volunteers and other agencies as a coordinated
approach. Performance monitoring systems are being reviewed to provide more accurate information on levels of activity in prevention work
across the county in all departments. As an example, this may be supported by the ‘Toughbook’ laptops being provided to fire appliances or
other software systems based on stations. This is ongoing work. A quarterly performance monitor will also be provided to the Community
Safety Panel.
Performance measurement

The system of allocating insurance                                             Schools insurance may be improved        Schools should be
costs to schools should be                                                     with targeted fire prevention            encouraged to report all
reconsidered with the aim of                                                   approach.                                fire incidents to HFRS,
providing a fire safety driver for                                                                                      including those managed
schools.                                                                                                                “in-house”

Discussions took place in 2007 on the possible benefits of a coordinated approach to insurance costs for schools. Since then structural re-
organisation in the Fire Service and a lack of an identified lead agency has meant that this issue has not yet progressed beyond initial
discussion. This in compounded by resource difficulties within the Protection Team.
                                                                             There should be a targeted             HFRS and CSF should re-
                                                                             approach to involve and inform         examine their working
                                                                             school Governors of the need for       arrangements to engage
                                                                             improved fire safety within their      all schools in a
                                                                             school and school grounds.             programme of security
                                                                                                                    surveys and/or fire

This issue will also become part of CSF’s ‘Schools’ secondment’s remit to raise awareness amongst Governors, Heads, children and
parents. Schools perceived to be in high risk areas or at high risk from occupancy will have priority. All schools in the County have been
offered an external fire check to combat potential arson and reduce fire risks. These visits have been carried out by local stations. Schools
are also encouraged to report all incidents of fire as part of the visit. Not all schools take up the offer of a visit, but those who have taken up
the offer have been visited.
                                                                                  The cost benefit analysis of
                                                                                  installing sprinkler systems in
                                                                                  existing school buildings, extensions

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Resources                               Replication                            Targeting                               Communications & Co-
                                                                               and mobile classrooms focusing on
                                                                               the most at-risk schools should be

Discussions have taken place with interested parties most notably of which were the Fire and Property Depts. A protocol is currently in place
for which the starting point is to fit sprinklers into any new builds or refurbishments of County property. This is balanced by a further specific
risk assessment for the property that examines the level of risk from the building or occupancy, a cost benefits analysis, and the requirement
needed for life or property protection. This will mean that it will not be feasible or required to fit sprinklers on all occasions, but where it is
appropriate it will be actively pursued.

Children & Young people
The outcomes for Community              Consideration should be given to       Cadet scheme very good but Life
Safety need to be re-defined by         making a similar provision to the      programme more targeted to meet
HCC to help avoid each                  St Albans “Danger Den” at              focused challenge.
department doing or being               appropriate Fire Stations across
perceived to be doing its own thing.    the county or to the need for a
                                        single countywide provision either
                                        separate from or incorporated into
                                        a “Hazards Alley” type facility.

As mentioned in a previous response, the Fire Service has set up a ‘Youth Engagement Team’ to be located at St Albans Fire Station, of
which two members will be secondments from CSF. We are also seeking to move a number of Prevention managers into Farnham House.
Both actions will improve co-ordination and liaison within HCC. The Prevention Team are also working on bringing together a central
database of initiatives that can be referred to by stations and others. The aim will be to have the details of all initiatives available to view and
allow the selection of initiatives to be carried out by local stations, when appropriate, in conjunction with local partners. A short and long term
‘Youth Strategy’ is currently being considered by the Service Leadership Group; however both will be dependent on available resources. The
provision of the ‘Hazard Alley’ facility is supported by HFRS, although the Service has no capacity to provide such a facility itself. We are
continually actively working with partners to explore how a facility could be provided. A total of 9 LiFE courses were completed during
2007/8. A similar amount is the minimum target for 2008/9 but we are hopeful to exceed that target. The Youth Engagement Team will be
carrying out further work during 2008 to review the rationale and effectiveness of all existing activities and to examine if they are still right to
fit in with our strategic objectives or whether activity should be modified. Again, this will be reviewed with the help of partner agencies.

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Resources                               Replication                             Targeting                                 Communications & Co-
                                        There is a need to examine the          HFRS’ priority for working with
                                        benefits and costs of a number of       schools should include working with
                                        different crucial crew operations       high risk secondary schools as well
                                        against those of a single “hazards      as easy to reach primary schools.
                                        alley” facility for the whole of

Reference Hazard Alley, please see above response. Regarding schools, it is the intention that when a programme of engagement with
schools is developed, it will be the higher risk schools that will be contacted first. Identification of those higher risk schools will be carried out
through data analysis of incident data and discussion with various other partners such as CSF and Police.

                                                                                There is a need for HFRS to
                                                                                improve links with F.E and H.E
                                                                                colleges to reach HMO (House in
                                                                                Multiple Occupation) and young
                                                                                people who are living independent
                                                                                from home life for the first time.

This work is part of the remit for the second CSF secondment. This will be to develop a programme of engagement with FE and HE
establishments to build on work already carried out with universities and colleges locally. This work will aim to cover young people being
cared for, as well as other residential establishments and various youth groups. The Protection Team completed in March 2008 a
programme of targeted risk based inspections to HMOs in the non-educational sector.

                                        Multi-agency referral protocols                                                   There is a need to improve
                                        should be developed with                                                          the communication
                                        statutory and. voluntary sector                                                   pathways between HFRS
                                        services embracing situations                                                     and ACS so that
                                        such as Hospital discharges                                                       duplication is avoided and
                                                                                                                          target groups are identified
                                                                                                                          and reached – particularly
                                                                                                                          with adults with learning
                                                                                                                          disabilities – but all links
                                                                                                                          need improving

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Resources                            Replication                          Targeting                                Communications & Co-
As mentioned in a previous response a co-ordinator with particular reference for the Elderly and Hard to Reach has been advertised and is to
be appointed imminently. Their remit will be to work on improving liaison with HCC departments and others, recruit voluntary advocates
within the elderly age group, and establish links and referral systems with hospitals, Age Concern, GPs or others as appropriate. Again this
will also be supported by the move of personnel to Farnham House.
                                      Arrangements should be
                                      developed to maximise the
                                      potential for sharing information
                                      on vulnerable people held on
                                      various databases such as IRIS &
No specific piece of work yet completed. This will improve and be developed further once the management restructuring is totally in place
and bedded in, along with the intended relocation of the Prevention Teams.

David McClement
Area Commander
Prevention & Protection

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